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Election Spotlight: California State Assembly District 13

In the heart of the Californian legislative system, the California State Assembly is a key component in working with the governor to pass legislation. The Assembly encourages public participation and provides opportunities for testimony during committee reviews and paths for citizens to express their opinions regarding pending legislation through their Assembly Representative’s district office.

The race for District 13 hosts three candidates:

Democratic candidates Edith Villapudua, Rhodesia Ransom, and Republican Candidate Denise Aguilar Mendez. 

What is the California State Assembly?

The California State Assembly is the lower house of the California State Legislature, forming the entire Legislature with the upper house, the State Senate. There are 80 Assembly seats, all of which are elected. There are three major leadership roles in the Assembly, the Speaker of the Assembly (Robert Rivas), Majority leader (Cecilia Aguiar-Curry), and Minority leader (James Gallagher), with the Speaker as the chief leadership position. 

The State Assembly serves numerous vital functions, most notably:

  • Operating in two-year sessions, from introducing bills to debating bills in committee and advancement to the chamber floor (if approved). 

  • Legislation typically becomes effective on January 1 following its passing, with the exception of urgency measures, effective immediately after the governor signs them.

  • In committee hearings, the Assembly examines and debates bills that may become laws.

  • The Rules Committee decides which standing committee will hear or discuss a bill.

  • Committee leadership is determined by the Speaker of the Assembly 

  • The majority of the Assembly’s work is done by its standing committees focused on different policy issues affecting California’s residents.

  • In order to pass bills into law, a simple majority is most commonly required.

  • Other bills require a two-thirds majority (e.g. tax increases, urgency measures). 

  • The Assembly retains the exclusive power to initiate impeachment proceedings for state officials.

To find your State Assembly District and Representative, enter your street address, city, and zip code here:, or (Your personal information will not be stored!)

The Candidates

Edith Villapudua - Democrat 

Born in Los Angeles and a graduate of the Heald Business College, Edith Villapudua brings a diverse background from the private to public sectors as a small business owner and self-employed Realtor, county investigator, and caseworker. Villapudua's public service began with a local non-profit, the CalWORKs program, as a case manager, where she provided case management services to those in need. Her position evolved naturally when she involved herself with a nonprofit organization committed to supporting San Joaquin County's Hispanic community named El Concilio. She worked to aid with immigration working with consulates for essential services such as passport issuance and residency renewals. Her dedication to the community also extended to providing Volunteer Income Tax Assistance services, for which she obtained a tax preparer license to better serve her community. 

In 2005, Villapudua became a county investigator in the San Joaquin Public Defender’s office for eleven years, where she gained valuable insight into the justice system. She also served successive roles at the Superior Court and the San Joaquin public conservator’s office, emphasizing her commitment to protecting vulnerable populations, such as elderly individuals and people with neuro-cognitive issues. In addition, Villapudua and her husband run a private business venture, collaborating to open a restaurant together. 

Her work in the private and public sector(s) provided her with a firsthand understanding of small businesses' challenges, reinforcing her belief in the importance of supporting local enterprises as pillars of the economy, as well as the impact of high living costs on families struggling to make ends meet or buy a home. Villapudua’s comprehensive campaign focuses on tackling the cost of living and affordable housing crisis, reducing crime for safer communities, ensuring government accountability, supporting small businesses, addressing the mental health crisis, improving the environment, and protecting seniors.

To learn more about Edith Villapudua, click here:  

Rhodesia Ransom - Democrat

With degrees from San Francisco State University and Golden Gate University, Rhodesia Ransom's career spans a diverse businesswoman and active community member background, with Emerge California, Delta Sigma Theta, and Kiwanis affiliations. Ransom is a veteran public servant with 20 years of service as a planning commissioner, city council member, non-profit co-founder and Executive Director of Sow A Seed Foundation, and congressional district director for Congressman Josh Harder. During her tenure in these roles, she worked to bolster the economy, and help improve the lives of women, working-class, and low-income community members & families. 

Ransom's multifaceted campaign focuses on numerous key issues: Affordability and Cost of Living, housing & homelessness, public safety, mental health, and quality of education. Ransom draws upon her experience as a Tracy City Council member to propose actionable plans. During her tenure in the Tracy City Council, Ransom proposed “a comprehensive plan, Project B.E.S.T Response,” with the goal of investing $1 million into local nonprofits and community programs to help people without homes. Ransom plans on working to implement upgrades to California’s “aging water facilities, promote water conservation, invest in innovative technologies to optimize water usage, and advocate for equitable access to clean drinking water” to combat water shortages. 

To learn more about Rhodesia Ransom, click here:  

Denise Aguilar Mendez - Republican 

Mendez was brought up from a life in the streets of California involving gangs, leading to her work in civics and grassroots legislation. After California’s Senate Bill 277 was passed into law, eliminating the State’s Personal Beliefs Exemption allowing parents to opt out of certain childhood vaccinations, Mendez became civically engaged with the goal of protecting children and parental rights.

In 2019, Mendez co-founded the Freedom Angels, a human and civil rights organization focused on health freedom and parental rights. This came in response to further legislative measures, such as Senate Bill 276, which aimed to modify the criteria for vaccination exemptions for schoolchildren. Mendez’s organization became more heavily involved in grassroots advocacy and successfully opposed or supported numerous different bills. The organization's efforts contributed to the defeat of SB866 and the implementation of AB659. SB866 was a bill that proposed allowing medical emancipation for individuals as young as 12, while AB659 sought to require the HPV vaccine for students in public and private institutions, including colleges.

Mendez’s multifarious campaign is focused on safeguarding children and parental rights, tackling the consequences of legislation lenient toward crime on small businesses, and addressing the issues of California's budget deficit and deteriorating infrastructure. She advocates for a return to the principles that represent Californian values and insists on the need for representatives who genuinely reflect their constituents' interests and voices.

To learn more about Denise Aguilar Mendez, click here: 


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